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Procedure: Extending time for appeals in the EAT

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Does not knowing about the EAT's 10Mb email limit amount to a "satisfactory explanation" for filing an appeal late?

Yes, where the Appellant never received the official guidance from the employment tribunal, held the Court of Appeal in J v K.

J wished to appeal a judgment and costs order against him. He never received the normal covering letter with a link to T426, a document called "The Judgment". That document contains another link to Guide T440 called "I want to appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal". T440 states that the EAT servers cannot receive emails over 10Mb in size. Because he never received the covering letter, J never saw this guidance.

J's email containing his notice of appeal and other documents was sent 5 minutes before the deadline. It was rejected as it was over 10Mb. He was able to resend in multiple emails with smaller attachments an hour after time expired. He was refused an extension of time and appealed to the Court of Appeal. Lord Justice Underhill, rejecting an argument that leaving it until the last minute should lead to a refusal to extend time said:

"[W]hat is peculiar about the present case is that the obstacle here was not...something extraneous to the EAT such as documents going astray in the post, or a traffic accident delaying the appellant's arrival at the EAT, or a computer failure at his or her end. Rather, the problem was the limited capacity of the EAT's own system (insufficiently notified to the Appellant)...It is as if the Appellant had arrived at the EAT at 3.55 p.m. on the last day with the documents fully ready to serve but had been unable to deliver them because the doors or letterbox were jammed or everyone was on the street because of a fire alarm. It is inconceivable that in such a case an extension could fairly be refused, even though the problem would have been avoided if he had come sooner."

He also went on to decide that where the EAT finds that an appeal was lodged late, "wholly or in substantial part" due to "mental ill-health", that will normally require an extension of time. Such a finding will usually require some form of medical evidence.

Thanks to Matthew Jackson of 10 KBW for preparing this case summary.